Early test-marketing of snus in the United States. | Freedom From Smoking

Early test-marketing of snus in the United States.

Snus is a relatively new smokeless tobacco product in the United States, and is modeled after the Swedish moist snuff product that is heat-treated rather than fermented, resulting in lower concentrations of certain toxins, (carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines).

The major tobacco manufacturers in the United States have each test-marketed snus-like products in a few US cities over the past 5 years, but so far only Camel Snus is available nationally. This week a new report was published in the journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, which analyzed the marketing strategy for these products in these test markets in 2008. The researchers, led by Dr John Rogers of University of Massachusetts surveyed 165 stores in 4 test markets (Columbus Ohio, Dallas Texas, Indianapolis Indiana and Portland Oregon). They found that a snus product was available in 64% of the stores, with big differences in availability of the brands. Marlboro Snus (Philip Morris) and Triumph Snus (Lorillard) were available in just over 60% of stores, but Camel Snus (Reynolds) was available in only 37% of stores. Grand Prix and Tourney Smus (Liggett) were only available in 2 and 4 of the stores respectively. Overall, at least one snus product was available in 80% of the stores.

Camel Snus was more expensive ($4.98) than its comparable cigarette brand, whereas Marlboro snus ($4.01) and Triumph (3.37) were less expensive than their same brand cigarettes. Despite this, 42% of stores reported “medium or high perceived demand” for camel Snus whereas only 12% did for Marlboro or Triumph (both medium, with no ratings of “high demand”). The products tended to be placed near cigarettes rather than other smokeless products, and there were other signs that the marketing was targeting cigarette smokers (e.g. in 25% of stores had “onsert” coupons attached to Camel cigarette packs).

So far, snus has not been flying off the shelves in the United States. Part of this is likely due to the fact that a large proportion of US smokers believe it is just as harmful as cigarettes (in reality it is much less harmful, estimated to be about 90% less, with no excess risk of lung cancer or respiratory diseases).

You can find out more about snus by entering the word in the “health experts” search box on the right.

Rogers J, Biener L, Clark PI. Test marketing of new smokeless tobacco products in 4 US cities. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 12: 69-72
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.